The Villans suffered a torrid season last year as they succumbed to relegation to the Championshp, but under new ownership and with Roberto Di Matteo in charge there is plenty of optimism ahead.
Villa haven’t been shy in spending money this summer, and they are widely regarded as one of the favourites for promotion back to the Premier League alongside the likes of Newcastle United and Norwich City.
However, their bid for an immediate return to the top-flight got off to a disappointing start as they were edged out 1-0 by the Owls on Sunday courtesy of a late Fernando Forestieri goal.
Many felt the hosts ultimately deserved their win after dominating the opening exchanges, and it seemed like a familiar tale for the Villa fans as a number of players simply weren’t at the races.
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As shown by the table provided by Opta, arguably the biggest culprit for Villa was midfielder Gardner who simply had a game to forget as he proved ineffective before being hauled off.
The 24-year-old posted only one tackle and two ball recoveries of note as he struggled against Wednesday’s hardworking midfielders, ultimately losing four defensive duels and making only 23 touches.
But the biggest disappointment was his play in possession, as for a player with talent and potential with the ball at his feet, he managed just seven forward accurate passes and an overall pass accuracy of 58.8%.
Gardner simply never got going, and it came as little surprise when he was replaced by Aaron Tshibola on 70 minutes, with the former Reading man in contrast posting an 81.3% pass accuracy rate.